President Donald Trump made a statement on September 26 that he will visit the “literally destroyed” island of Puerto Rico the following Tuesday. His delayed response drew criticism from both sides of the aisle, according to the New York Times. In Hurricane Maria’s wake, more than 3 million Americans now suffer without electricity or adequate food or water, Slate reported. At least 80% of the island’s agriculture was destroyed, eliminating a source of food as well as a chunk of the island’s economy. In addition, 95% of cellphone towers on Puerto Rico toppled, depriving locals of a way to ask for help—and crippling government response, too.
The day before Trump finally spoke on it, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo A. Rosello said the territory stands on the brink of a humanitarian crisis. Nearly a week after Hurricane Maria made landfall, Rosello called on Congress for help.
Puerto Rico’s governor calls for equal treatment
The governor asked for the same amount and type of aid the president provides for any state affected by such a disaster. “Recognize that we Puerto Ricans are American citizens,” he said. “When we speak of a catastrophe, everyone must be treated equally.”
He noted that, if Puerto Rico does not get help soon, it could cause a “mass exodus” to the mainland. Congressional leaders said they have to wait for damage assessments before they act. They also need a formal disaster request from the Trump administration, which may not come until early to mid-October.
Trump’s early response sounds awfully close to blaming the victim.